Nothing seems to be further from what LCD Soundsystem have done through their short five-year existence, whether live or in the recording studio, than just "playing the hits". New York producer, musician and label boss James Murphy's project shot up into the global consciousness own after the 2002 single "Losing My Edge" snowballed into a life of its own; for an almost 20-year-old veteran who had toiled in a series of little-known or niche-success projects to find himself suddenly a bona fide rock star required an adjustment that ended up being, in his own words, the reason to call LCD Soundsystem's career a day in 2011, with a final concert at the Madison Square Garden in April 2011.

     Shut Up and Play the Hits is the record of the final concert and of the final days in the actual existence of the project, told by British directors Dylan Southern and Will Lovelace in a smartly fragmented, off-centred visual form, intercutting selections from the concert with "behind the scenes" footage. "Behind the scenes", mind you, not from the run-up to the show but, rather, of its aftermath, as Mr. Murphy wakes up to the first day of his life post-stardom and has to deal with the comedown from the near four-hour-long concert, and also of an interview with writer Chuck Klosterman where the musician rationalizes his decision to get out while the going's good. While the concert footage is smart if uneventful (with camerawork from both Spike Jonze and François Ozon's regular DP Yorick le Saux), it's in the remainder of the film that Messrs. Southern and Lovelace's work rises high, painting an unexpectedly thoughtful portrait of the rock star as a normal man, of the complex forces pulling and pushing at you while traveling the world, navigating pressures and creativity.

     Just as there was very little that was rote about the brief, ten-year career of LCD Soundsystem, there's very little that is rote about this cleverly crafted film, whose self-deprecating title (quoting directly from special guests Arcade Fire's brief words before launching into "North American Scum") is almost a misleading declaration of intent.

Directors: Dylan Southern, Will Lovelace
Cinematography: (documentary footage) Reed Morano, (concert footage) Giles Dunning
Editor: Mark Burnett, with additional work from Mr. Southern and Leo Smith
Producers: Lucas Ochoa, Thomas Benski, James Murphy  (Pulse Films)
United Kingdom/USA, 2012, 108 minutes

Screened: DocLisboa 2012 official selection advance screener, Lisbon, October 28th 2012


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